Chilean police detain 'escaped' coronavirus patient in market

  • World
  • Friday, 03 Apr 2020

SANTIAGO (Reuters) - Police arrested a woman in a food market in a Chilean city on Wednesday who health authorities said had checked herself out of the hospital where she was being treated.

The 27-year-old woman had been admitted to the Las Higueras health center in the city of Concepcion - 300 miles (483 km) south of the capital Santiago - with "mild respiratory symptoms, resulting in the activation of the COVID-19 protocol, and a positive examination," said the hospital director Patricia Sanchez.

Sanchez said the woman had checked herself out of the hospital on Wednesday.

According to local press reports, the woman then traveled by public transport to the busy Vega Monumental market, where they reported that she lived and worked.

Footage showed her seeking to run away from black-clad security staff brandishing batons and wearing masks, as well as uniformed police, before she was surrounded and detained.

A prosecutor for the BioBio Region said it had opened an investigation into the case under laws safeguarding public health that carry either jail time or stiff fines. They did not name the woman.

Because of fears she had been in contact with other workers and customers, the market - one of the main food providers for the area - was temporarily closed on the instructions of the health authorities.

Some traders said they were already applying protective measures against the coronavirus, of which more than 3,000 cases have so far been confirmed in Chile. Others said they would use the order to close to sanitize their stalls.

"We are going to abide by the order, there's nothing else for it but it's not clear how this will end," said one vendor.

(Reporting by Reuters TV, writing by Natalia Ramos and Aislinn Laing; Editing by Rosalba O'Brien)

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